The eligibility criteria, training content, and scope of practice for prescriptive authority for midwives: a modified Delphi study†
Frontiers of Nursing
Objective To investigate the necessary eligibility criteria for prescriptive authority for midwives, gather suggestions from experts on training content for prescriptive authority for midwives, and explore the scope of practice of their prescriptive authority in certain circumstances. The results of this study could serve as a reference for the development of policies on prescriptive authority for midwives. Methods Based on a literature search and semistructured interviews, a modified Delphi
... hod was first used to conduct 2 rounds of expert consultation on eligibility criteria and training content for prescriptive authority for midwives. This stage included nursing experts (20) and medical experts (16) engaged in midwifery in many tertiary Grade A hospitals in China. Subsequently, consultation on the scope of practice of prescriptive authority for midwives was conducted with nursing experts (18) and medical experts (14) engaged in midwifery in many tertiary Grade A hospitals in China. The suggestions from the experts were analyzed using statistical methods to confirm the eligibility criteria for prescriptive authority, training content, circumstances, scope of practice for prescriptive authority, and the prescription forms. Results Among the consulted experts, 70.59% (the highest acceptance rate) considered an undergraduate degree to be the minimum educational requirement for midwives to be eligible for prescriptive authority, 85.29% (the highest acceptance rate) considered the supervisor nurse to be the minimum technical position experience necessary for midwives to be eligible for having prescriptive authority, and 50% (the highest acceptance rate) considered 5 years to be the minimum number of years of experience in the specialty for midwives to be eligible for prescriptive authority. The applicants should at least be practicing at Grade C hospitals, which was the consensus among 91.18% of the consulted experts. Among the consulted experts, 100%, 100%, 97.06%, 94.12%, and 94.12% agreed that the applicants should have knowledge in pharmacology, laws and ethics, nursing, diagnostics, and midwifery, respectively. The consulted experts confirmed 22 related course topics and identified 6 specific circumstances in which the midwives could partially practice prescriptive authority, including uterine atony, excessive uterine contraction, postpartum hemorrhage, premature rupture of fetal membranes, normal labor, and neonatal asphyxia. Under these 6 circumstances, the consulted experts commonly agreed that there were 20 medication prescriptions and 13 auxiliary examination prescriptions that could be prescribed by midwives. Of these prescriptions, 51.5% were independent prescriptions, 30.3% were protocol prescriptions, and the remaining 18.2% were both independent and protocol prescriptions. Conclusions Midwives who have an undergraduate degree, supervisor nurse position, and 5 years of practice in Grade C hospitals are considered eligible to apply for prescriptive authority. Partial prescriptive authority could be granted after regulated training in fundamental theories and practices, which could improve the independence and professionalism of midwifery.